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Summary: Big Idea: We can build a shatterproof church by 1) Growing ourselves, 2) Knowing our true leader, 3) Contributing to the ministry, and 4) Watching for dangers.

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Building Our Shatterproof Church

1 Corinthians 3

vacMidway - Sep. 25, 2005

[WARNING: This sermon may not be suitable for every church’s political context.]

1) {Tell the story of a shattered church}

a) {Open illustration}

A few years ago a Godly pastor came to this city and planted a church here. He was so passionate and caring. He became the senior pastor for a while. He also had great associates. One of his associates was so gifted in preaching. His eloquence could draw a crowd. After a while, the senior pastor was gone, and his associate also left, and so the church is without a pastor.

The church board began a search committee for a new pastor. Some on the board wanted to find someone as eloquence in preaching as their last pastor, but some wanted to find someone with passionate care for the people as their church founder, and then there were some who pushed that they should invite big name preacher to pastor their church. And then there were always some idealists who said that the congregation wouldn’t really need a pastor.

At first, it was just a matter of opinions. But then people began to back their opinions with reasoning. Then philosophical and theological reasoning turns into debates. Debates became nasty. People took sides. Emotion was hurt. And before you know it, the church is on the verge of a painful split.

So much for the Vietnamese Alliance Church of Midway City!

No. It hadn’t happened to our church yet. But it could in the near future. It had happened to many churches we knew personally already. And we knew that it was happening to the Corinthian church!

b) {Bridge to text}

Paul planted the Corinthian church around 51AD. He stayed there and pastored them for another year and a half. When Paul moved on to the next destination to spread the Gospel, an associate named Apollos arrived to Corinth and taught them with great eloquence and skills. But then Apollos also moved on to spread the Gospel in the other places. Powerful men in the church rose to leadership, full of ideas but lacking godliness. These people splintered the congregation into multiple factions, each following their own “legendary leader”. Paul heard about it and wrote them:

My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” [1Cor.1:11-12]

And here in chapter 3 of the letter, Paul started to address their undue focus on human leadership again:

When one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. [1Cor.3:4-7, ESV]

c) {Thesis & Tracking Points}

It is in our human nature that we want to follow someone, a visible leader. That same human nature will easily get us divided to follow men and not God.

Will that divisive nature shatter our church in the future?

Continuing our series Symbiosis – Doing Life Together, today we will look at 1 Corinthians 3 to learn from God’s Word about ways to combat division in our community:

We can build a shatterproof church by 1) growing ourselves, 2) knowing our true leader, 3) participating in ministries, and 4) watching for dangers.

d) {Prayer}

2) {Make the point(s)}

a) FIRST: We can build a shatterproof church by GROWING OURSELVES

i) {Text: Note what state the Corinthians were at}

“1But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?” [v.1-4, ESV]

ii) {Explain}

The Corinthian were divided because they were not “spiritual people” but “people of the flesh” (or “carnal” in the KJV, “worldly” in the NIV).

What are worldly/carnal Christians?[i]

(1) Worldly Christians are prolonged babies, immature: Paul described these people “as infants in Christ”. They are babies. Just as babies have to depend on others for nurture, protection; spiritual babies have to depend on others to learn more about God. Nothing wrong with that, we all were babies at some times in our faith development. Paul recorded his interactions with the Corinthians as babies in the past: “2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.”

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